Carroll Johnson, 69; UCLA professor, Cervantes scholar

From a Times Staff Writer

Carroll Johnson, a longtime Spanish professor at UCLA whose Freudian analysis of novelist Miguel de Cervantes and his masterpiece “Don Quixote” stirred controversy among Cervantes scholars, died Tuesday in Chicago after a stroke. He was 69.

Johnson had been in Chicago to deliver a lecture, a UCLA representative said.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. April 8, 2007 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday April 08, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Johnson obituary -- The obituary of Carroll Johnson in Saturday’s California section said that in 2005 he oversaw a monthlong celebration at UCLA marking the 100th anniversary of “Don Quixote.” That celebration marked the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’ classic work.

A Los Angeles native who spent his entire academic career at UCLA, Johnson was past president of the Cervantes Society of America and editor of the scholarly journal Cervantes.


In 2005 he oversaw a monthlong celebration at UCLA marking the 100th anniversary of “Don Quixote,” the tragicomic novel about a self-styled knight-errant on a quest to restore chivalry to the world. The event included a marathon reading of the novel by students along with films and scholarly talks, including an address by Johnson for the 98th in the university’s Faculty Research Lecture series.

Johnson was known for insightful and groundbreaking research, particularly in his 1983 book “Madness and Lust: A Psychoanalytical Approach to ‘Don Quixote.’ ” He later wrote from a socioeconomic perspective in “Cervantes and the Material World.”

His observations about Quixote’s Oedipal conflicts and his beard (which he described as an “upwardly displaced analogue of the virile member”) fascinated and repelled critics. A Los Angeles Times reviewer said Johnson’s Freudian insights gave the book “a modern perspective,” but Justin Marozzi, writing in the London Sunday Telegraph, found them “absurd.”

Tall, wiry and bearded, Johnson received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCLA in 1960 and 1961. His doctorate, in 1966, was from Harvard. He joined the UCLA faculty as an acting assistant professor in 1964 and became a full professor in 1976.

Johnson is survived by his wife, Linda Leslie Johnson, and their daughter, Amy.